82-Year-Old Woman Arrested For Tagging Neighbor’s Fence


Sylvia Kordower-Zetlin, 82, was arrested in June for making graffiti on the backyard fence that separates her property from that of her neighbor, Arlo Devlin-Brown.

A feisty 82-year-old Uptown woman was hauled to court for spray-painting a fence built by her next-door neighbor — a high-ranking federal prosecutor — as part of a raging dispute over the property line between their brownstones.

Great-granny Sylvia Kordower-Zetlin has been warring with Arlo Devlin-Brown, the newly appointed chief of the in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office — but prosecutors say she crossed the line when she tagged the backyard fence that separates the properties on W. 113th St.

The octogenarian was arrested June 22 and charged with making graffiti.

“It’s an ongoing dispute,” Assistant District Attorney Justin Chung said at the criminal court arraignment Wednesday. “The defendant was going onto what the complainant believes to be his property and refuses to stop coming over.

“That’s why the fence was put up in the first place,” Chung added.

Devlin-Brown’s wife, Daniela Kempf, says the senior citizen has been harassing her family incessantly, turning their idyllic Morningside Heights yard into a minefield.

“We have a beautiful home and we would enjoy it a lot more if she weren’t making our lives hell,” said Kempf, a professor at Barnard College.

“She takes pictures of us whenever we come outside,” added Kempf, who lives with Devlin-Brown and their children, ages 7 and 5. “She gets on a ladder (and) yells, ‘Bastards! Bastards!’ ”

Kempf said the fence was erected entirely on her family’s lot — but Kordower-Zetlin’s lawyer told the criminal court judge she was “simply preserving” the boundary lines.

“This is an absurd allegation,” said the lawyer, who is also her son-in-law, Jonathan Reiter. “My client was completely in the right. The fence is actually partially on the defendant’s property and she marked that fence . . . to prevent the complainant from acquiring prescriptive rights by adverse possession of her property.”

Kordower-Zetlin, a retired art teacher, later told The News that she is the one being bullied.

“The fence is on my property — 2 feet onto my property,” she said. “I had two separate surveys done and they both show that where he put the fence is in my yard. Even the fence man said it was on my yard.

“I’m a widow and he works for the (government),” she said. “He should be protecting me, not getting me arrested.”

Devlin-Brown and family are not the only targets of Kordower-Zetlin’s ire. Last year, she sued a number of contractors over alleged problems on some remodeling and renovations, claiming at least $1 million in damages and accusing the workers of stealing “two pieces of valuable artwork … as well as pieces of jewelry.”

Last year, she also sued the city for not maintaining the vacant lot next door, causing “water, debris and tree roots to enter” her lot, she claimed.

She’s due back in court Oct. 15.



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